Sikhs target of 'Allah' attack

By Julia Zappei

Vandals threw stones at a Sikh temple, adding to religious tensions over a string of attacks on churches in Muslim-dominated Malaysia.

The church attacks - since Friday eight have been hit with firebombs and one with paint - came after a court overturned a Government ban and allowed a Catholic newspaper to use the word "Allah" to refer to God. Some of the Sikh scriptures also use "Allah".

Twenty small stones were thrown into the compound of a gurdwara in Kuala Lumpur's Sentul neighbourhood, district police chief Zakaria Pagan said.

Only a 100-year-old mirror was damaged and no one was hurt.

Stones were also thrown at a telecom building next door. A temple volunteer and office building security guard heard the attack, but did not see any suspects. Pagan said police believed the incident was "mischief", and unrelated to attacks on the churches.

Temple chief Gurdial Singh said he was surprised by the attack but not concerned. He said it was an isolated incident by "someone taking advantage of the situation".

"We have already done our prayers. To us, it's a small issue."

However, the 120,000 Sikhs in Malaysia were not going to stop using "Allah", he said.

"We cannot change our scriptures ... I think the Government has not handled it properly. We need dialogue ... As far as we are concerned we are doing our prayers [using Allah]. There is no way any law is stopping us."

The Muslim-dominated Government argues "Allah" is exclusive to Islam and forbids non-Muslims from using it. The Arabic word, which predates Islam, is routinely used by Christians in other Muslim countries.

The Malaysian Government has banned "Allah" in published material and not in everyday speech.

MALAYSIA'S PEOPLE

Population: 28 million.
Majority: 60 per cent Malay Muslims.
Minority: 25 per cent ethnic Chinese (mostly Buddhists), 10 per cent ethnic Indians (mostly Hindus).
Christians: Are found among both minorities, but more than 70 per cent of Malaysian Christians are indigenous people of Sabah and Sarwak on Borneo. Nine per cent of the population is Christian.
Sikhs: Are also ethnic Indians and number about 120,000.

- AP

- NZ Herald

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